God and country

God and country – letters

Mark Tooley

MICHAEL MACDONALD contrasts conservative United Methodists, who ostensibly want the church “to rally around the flag,” with the Council of Bishops, whose pastoral letter responding to September 11 was decidedly unserious. I was cited as a flag-waving United Methodist on the basis of an article I wrote for the evangelical Good News magazine.

It is true that I favor waving the flag, when appropriate. And, in the aftermath of September 11, it seemed very appropriate. But it does not necessarily follow that love for our country denies or undermines our higher love for God, anymore than church celebrations of Mother’s Day necessarily elevate mothers above the Lord. There can be a godly form of patriotism, and I think that we as Christians need to describe what that should look like.

As to Macdonald’s critique of the bishops’ inability to respond to the moral challenge of September 11, I can only add my own “Amen.” Perhaps that means I can also call myself a “moderate.” Or perhaps Macdonald is actually a conservative. Whichever we are, I do not agree with him that being a moderate is difficult in our denomination. Both conservatives and liberals in the church are often anxious to call themselves moderate because being in the middle is perceived as the safest place politically.

Mark Tooley

Institute on Religion and Democracy,

Washington, D. C.

COPYRIGHT 2002 The Christian Century Foundation

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group